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Sovereign Defaults: Information, Investment and Credit

Why would a sovereign government, immune from bankruptcy procedures and with few assets that could be seized in the event of a default, ever repay foreign creditors? And, correspondingly, why do foreign creditors lend to sovereigns? This paper finds general conditions under which, even in the absence of sanctions, lending to sovereigns can emerge in a single shot game. Furthermore, it shows that positive borrowing can be sustained both in pooling and separating equilibria. In this way, it makes clear that neither sanctions nor reputation considerations, the two classical explanations, are necessary to enforce repayment. Information revelation is the crucial mechanism for these results. The repayment/default decision is interpreted as a signal used by the government to communicate information to domestic and foreign agents about the fundamentals of the economy. Governments repay to affect agents' expectations about them. A default, through its effect on expectations about fundamentals, can generate a decline in foreign and domestic investment and a credit crunch in domestic credit markets. Governments repay to avoid these costs, but may default (in equilibrium) when hit by a negative shock.

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Paper provided by Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in its series Business School Working Papers with number 2008-04.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:udt:wpbsdt:2008-04
Contact details of provider: Postal: Miñones 2177 - (1428) Buenos Aires
Web page: http://www.utdt.edu/listado_contenidos.php?id_item_menu=4994

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  1. Jonathan Eaton & Raquel Fernandez, 1995. "Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 5131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1998. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/14, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  3. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  4. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1988. "Sovereign Debt: Is To Forgive To Forget?," NBER Working Papers 2623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Cole, Harold L & Kehoe, Patrick J, 1998. "Models of Sovereign Debt: Partial versus General Reputations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 55-70, February.
  6. Martinez, Jose Vicente & Sandleris, Guido, 2011. "Is it punishment? Sovereign defaults and the decline in trade," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 909-930, October.
  7. Kenneth M. Kletzer and Brian D. Wright., 1998. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C98-100, University of California at Berkeley.
  8. Barry Eichengreen & Ashoka Mody, 1998. "What Explains Changing Spreads on Emerging-Market Debt: Fundamentals or Market Sentiment?," NBER Working Papers 6408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Engers, Maxim, 1987. "Signalling with Many Signals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 663-74, May.
  10. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  11. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  12. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  13. Quinzii, Martine & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1985. "Multidimensional signalling," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 261-284, June.
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